Origin Bakery wins small business best employer award

Origin Bakery has been honoured as the best employer in this year’s Small Business B.C. Awards.

The gluten-free bakery started as a market stall in 2009 by friends Tara Black and Marion Neuhauser. It quickly expanded to a commercial operation at 1525 Pandora Ave., and a second location at 110-1790 Island Highway in Colwood.

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Origin employs 24 staff for both locations.

It was the only Vancouver Island-based business to win an award this year. Each winner received $1,500. The awards attracted about 460 nominees from 70 communities in B.C.

Black said the goal of the business was always “to create an atmosphere that we want to work in ourselves,” and that means treating staff with dignity. “We are going to do everything we can to support [staff] in their jobs,” she said.

Origin staff have a benefit package and receive training. In the past year, three employees completed apprenticeships to become Red Seal certified bakers, and four apprentices have signed on, Black said.

Origin recognizes that “nobody is one dimensional,” and the owners are ready to foster personal goals, Black said. In some cases, it means giving staff members flexible hours.

As the company has grown, it has also partnered with non-profit groups and educational institutions.

Students at Camosun College developed a small-scale, affordable cookie dough dispenser. The machine is in the prototype stage and students are seeking funding. A dough dispenser would make the bakery more efficient and help workers by reducing repetitive work as they scoop out dough, Black said.

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